Skybridge to Heaven

Portland shoots for the region’s tallest buildings with twin towers proposal

Architecture City Terrain West
Portland shoots for the region's tallest buildings with twin towers proposal (Courtesy William Kaven Architecture)

A recently proposed pair of twin towers by Portland, Oregon–based William Kaven Architecture (WKA) could become the tallest buildings in Oregon and among the tallest structures on the West Coast if built according to current plans.

WKA is proposing a pair of diagrid-framed structures on a site formerly occupied by a regional U.S. Postal Service headquarters in Portland’s Pearl District, with one of the towers rising 970 feet high. The towers would be connected near their apexes by a monumental sky bridge. The tower’s so-called “botanical bridge” would sit roughly 680 feet above grade according to current plans. The towers will also feature mid-body planted terraces and will be connected along the ground floor by a public park.

A recently-proposed 970-foot-tall tower by William Kaven Architecture could become the tallest building in Oregon. (Courtesy William Kaven Architecture)

The sky-bridge would create a new tourist destination for the city, according to the architects, on par with Seattle’s Space Needle and the Eiffel Tower in Paris. If completed, however, the tower’s height would still fall a good deal behind the Wilshire Grand in Los Angeles by AC Martin and the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco by Pelli Clarke Pelli, which rise 1,099- and 1,070-feet high, respectively, due to their spires.

The project site was recently purchased for $88 million by Prosper Portland, a local urban renewal agency that is seeking to turn the site into a mixed-use apartment hub, Willamette Week reports.

In a recent Op-Ed for DJC Oregon, WKA principal Daniel Kaven laid out the argument for the firm’s twin tower proposal, calling the scheme a lynchpin for regional efforts to “fundamentally transform how people live in the [Pacific] Northwest” by creating an iconic, high-density node on a prominent urban site. In the article, Kaven argues that the region will likely see an influx of new residents as other regions across the country become burdened by climate change–related afflictions. The time to begin preparing for the influx of climate refugees is now—according to Kaven—and high-rise developments could provide a practical solution for adding more housing while also relieving residents of their cars.

Kaven added:

“The towers are large enough to serve as a headquarters for a Fortune 100 company, such as Amazon, and would anchor the entire district both architecturally and financially. The towers and interlinking skybridge would be an iconic addition to Portland’s skyline and a destination for locals and tourists alike. The elevated garden would be a tropical respite from the gray of the city at any time of the year and provide breathtaking views of Mt. Hood and the entire city skyline.”

For now, the WKA scheme remains just that—Prosper Portland began project solicitation earlier this month via an RFP, which is due January 19, 2018.

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